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Phuket pawnshops busy in April



PHUKET: Government-run pawnshops on the island did a roaring trade last month in the run-up to the new school term that began in mid-May.

More than 10,000 people pawned goods valued at over 200 million baht at the island’s three government-licensed pawnshops in April.

The Phuket City Municipality Pawnshop currently has 247 million baht out on loan, while the Patong Municipality Pawnshop has over 100 million baht and the Cherng Talay Pawnshop has over 50 million baht.

The only other licensed pawnshop on the island is a privately-owned enterprise on Thalang Road in Phuket Town.

Apiwat Chaiyakul, manager of the Phuket City Pawnshop on Kamorapat Road, said the ailing economy forced more people than ever to use the service.

Our economy is very bad this low season…. Normally a few thousand people take about 100 million baht each month. This year the figures are very high compared to the last low season,” he said.

Most of the assets that people bring to the pawnshops are gold items. We pay them 14,000 baht per bahtweight of gold. The remainder are mostly electronic appliances,” Mr Apiwat said.

Municipal pawnshops charge lower interest rates than the private pawnshops or gold shops, he said.

On a loan of 5,000 baht, interest is 0.75% per month. From 5,000 baht to 30,000 baht, it’s 1%, while on loans of 30,000 baht to 100,000 baht are priced at 1.2% per month.

Gold shops generally charge interest at 3% per month, Mr Apiwat said.

Anyone with an ID card or passport, including foreigners, can use the service and borrow up to 500,000 baht.

Most of our customers are Thais. Sometimes we have foreigners, though not a lot. The Patong shop is the most popular with tourists,” she said.

Tourists are more likely to pawn items like watches, sunglasses and cellphones, she added.

The stores are open 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. Every second Saturday of the month there is an auction on unredeemed items from 9am to 12pm.

One woman, a housewife who asked not to be named, was full of praise for the pawnshop.

I come here often. Today I put my camera in and I plan to get it back next month,” she said.

The low interest rates offered make the pawnshops very handy when times are tough, she said.

— Kitima Pornmongkhonwat


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